The first crack of thunder came just after we stepped outside. When I'd leashed Duncan up the sun had been shining at the front of the apartment but once we'd stepped outside I discovered it was no longer doing so on the back side. The sky had turned dark, the clouds had swept in, some of them low while other stayed very high, and the wind was pulling the yellow Linden leaves from the trees and was making them dance haphazardly across the parking lot. Dunc stopped dead in his tracks at the low rumble and then turned to look at me. "It's your call," I told him. "But I want you to know you're safe. I'll whistle you a song to listen to while you ignore the sky and everything that's happening up there and look at the grass and the little bugs that dance above it. And that's how we'll keep you safe." He took a moment to decide what to do and then slowly took a step forward.
And that's how we found our way down to the patch of flowers at the end of the property. While a dark cloud formed and hovered over our building and the trees swayed sometimes violently across out path, Duncan kept his nose to the ground while I whistled a Nina Simone song I often find myself whistling on rainy days.
And each time the thunder shook the ground and the heavens I whistled louder for him. His footsteps picked up and even though we were trotting by the time we reached the bright pink and purple and yellow and orange flowers he seemed relieved to find them there waiting for him. Soon the first warm drops began to smatter the sidewalk but Duncan did not mind because his face was buried deep among their welcome and comforting hues. I smiled and thought, "That's what you do when you're afraid. You press on, you whistle a little song, and you keep your head low to the ground."
He made it through the walk and I'm still smiling, still marveling at his courage, loving him more than I did an hour ago.